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MODUS OPERANDI | OFWs in Taiwan framed by used-SIM card ring in fraud

File photo of Taiwan's flags. REUTERS

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos working in Taiwan have been warned against buying cheaper, but used, SIM cards for their mobile phones to avoid being set up by a criminal ring using these for illegal activities.

The used SIM cards are peddled in the Won Won business complex in Taipei, a favorite  hangout of foreign workers.

The warning came from recruitment and migration consultant Emmanuel Geslani, who was informed of the modus operandi by Taiwan PILMAT president Angel Tong.

According to Tong, several illegal stores in Taiwan sell SIM cards that were earlier used in illegal practices like prank calls, threatening or bullying, scams, frauds and even phone sex.

Geslani said several Filipinos who purchased the used cards were suddenly issued subpoenas from the Prosecutor’s Office for investigation or for immediate arrest.

The modus operandi goes this way: the cellphone store will sell used SIM cards to foreign workers and ask for two valid IDs---a normal requirement for individuals to register their new SIM card with their respective telephone companies.

However, the cellphone stores in Won Won would immediately sell the individual’s personal information and the copy of two IDs to the Taiwanese organized criminal groups.

“Many newly arrived Filipino workers in Taiwan (are) eager to get in touch with their relatives in the Philippines flock to the said business complex to buy these used cards, not knowing the consequences of using such,” Geslani lamented.

Under Taiwan’s strict laws, an individual is allowed to purchase a new SIM card only if he or she presents a company ID and passport.

“However, since these workers have just arrived from the Philippines, most of them cannot purchase a new SIM card, so they resort to going to the Won Won complex where these previously-owned SIM cards are for sale” at lower prices Geslani explained.

Tong is set to meet with officials of Ching Hwa Telecoms, Taiwan’s largest telecommunication company, to immediately resolve this issue, and prevent more Filipinos from being victimized.

The National Bureau of Investigation in the Philippines, Geslani said, has been investigating similar cases where used SIM cards have been utilized by Chinese and Taiwanese gangs to extort money, credit card fraud, call by-pass syndicates, and other cybercrimes.

“Most of the syndicates settle in the Philippines as their base of operations,” Geslani said.

82 indicted for fraud

Meanwhile, Taiwanese authorities indicted 82 of their nationals in Taichung City on charges of fraud, a Taiwanese website reported.

The arrest was made two months after the Taiwanese government repatriated them from the Philippines, where they were caught carrying out telephone scams victimizing mostly Chinese nationals.

The Taiwanese prosecutors said that the suspects belong to two groups led by “ring-leaders” with the family name of Chang and Lin, which set up four telephone stations in Manila from March 2011 to June 2012.

In their modus operandi, the Taiwanese syndicate called people in Mainland China, informing them that their bank accounts have been hacked and persuading them to transfer their funds into certain bank accounts that, it turned out, were controlled by the rings.

Through this method, the two rings stole hundreds of millions of New Taiwan dollars from hundreds of people, Focus Taiwan said.

The Taiwanese authorities said the ring has so far victimized nine Chinese victims.

The 82 suspects are part of some 200 suspects nabbed and sent back by Philippine authorities in October 2012 for allegedly carrying out telephone fraud in Manila.

The other suspects repatriated are still being investigated by prosecutors.